STEP-BY-STEP INSTRUCTIONS FOR WRITING PROJECTS

 

When we write formal compositions (as opposed to our daily notebook entries), it takes time, sometimes as much as 2 weeks. We won’t just write something once and then move on; we need to learn that writing is a process, and that we need to do more than just make corrections and type it up. We also need to work step-by-step, over a period of time, not wait until the last minute to get started.

 

For some projects, you will need a progress sheet, which I’ll explain in class; click here for a sample that you can print out. Each time you submit a draft or revision, you’ll submit the progress sheet with it.

 

1.    Decide what you’re going to write. Sometimes I’ll give you a specific assignment, other times this will be up to you. Either way, you need to make this decision before you get started. Whatever you decide, remember that, unlike the writer’s notebook, we’re writing for an audience now, which means you want other people to read this.

 

2.    Write your Draft. This is your first attempt to turn your idea into a publishable piece. The important thing here is: Don’t get it right, get it written; don’t obsess over it, because you will write it again, no matter what. But make sure it’s written in paragraphs; if it’s not, I won’t even look at it.

 

·   “How long does it have to be?” Length is a product of purpose, not vice-versa. How long your piece is depends on what you’re trying to do. Basically, it has to be as long as it needs to be to accomplish your goal. I’m more interested in what you’re doing than in how long your draft is.

 

3.    Hand in your Draft. I will read it, then give you a response on your progress sheet. My response will give you an idea of what to do next, but you may not get your draft back yet…

 

4.    Write your Revision. It doesn’t mean your first draft was “bad,” it’s just very important that you try again, that you write your piece with a fresh approach, based on my response. Sometimes, you need to literally start from scratch. You also need to be a little more careful this time, and pay more attention to your language.

 

5.    Hand in your Revision. This time I’ll go over it in a little more detail, correcting some of your errors and responding to the overall piece. Usually, we’ll skip to step 8 from here, though you can write a second revision if there’s time.

 

6.    Write your Second Revision (optional). Now you’re getting close to what your final story will look like. You need to take everything you’ve written, and all the responses, and write the best piece you can.

 

7.    Hand in your Second Revision (optional). I will respond once again and correct some of your errors again. Generally, you will need to do most of the final editing yourself; I can’t correct every mistake.


8.   Type your Final Draft. That’s right, type it. If you’re using a computer, the text should be in one of these three fonts: Times New Roman, Courier or Arial, no others; font size 12, double space, ½” indents, 1” margins, black ink, white paper 8½” x 11”, no extra spaces, no italics, no bold, NO ALL CAPITAL LETTERS. Make sure your printer is working, and has ink and paper, before the project is due!

 

If you’re using a conventional typewriter, apply the same spacing rules; type on only one side of the page. If you absolutely cannot have it typed, you may hand-write it, but it must be neat, double-spaced, and one-sided; use loose-leaf paper only, not spiral or bound notebook paper, and write in black or blue ink.

 

9.    Read your Final Draft carefully and check for errors. Everybody makes them, so make sure you find them before I do, because if I see a mistake, that tells me that you don’t know what you’re doing. Go over it line by line, word by word, make sure everything is formatted properly, make sure you correct all errors, make sure your NAME is on it, before you print it out and before you hand it in.

 

10.                      Hand in your final project. I’d like two copies of your final draft, so that I may keep one. Attach your progress sheet, if it’s required, to one copy.

 

It is very important that you hand in all of your drafts and revisions during the writing process, because if you don’t, if any of them are missing, if you skip a step, your project will not receive a passing grade. YOU WILL GET AN “F” IF ANY DRAFTS OR REVISIONS ARE NOT SUBMITTED, or if you do not submit a required progress sheet. In other words, you can’t do the whole project on your own in one or two days. You must engage with the entire process, over the course of the time we’re working on it, and have proof that you did.

 

Writing projects will be graded using rubrics, which specify what characteristics I will be evaluating, and each level of performance. Narrative writing projects are judged on CONTENT, TECHNIQUE and PROCESS, which are rated excellent, good, fair or poor. Click here to view the full assessment rubric for narrative writing projects.

 

Writing projects which are based on the English Regents exam, and similar essays, will be assessed using the same rubrics that are used on that exam. The criteria are MEANING, DEVELOPMENT, ORGANIZATION, LANGUAGE and CONVENTIONS, and are rated on a scale of 1 to 6. For English 1-3, letter grades will correspond to Regents scores as follows: 5=A, 4=B, 3=C, 2=D, 1=F. For English 4 and up: 6=A, 5=B, 4=C, 3=D, 2=F, 1=F.

 

For full credit, the final project must be turned in on the day it is due. If it is submitted after the due date, your grade will be reduced by one full letter grade (e.g., a B+ becomes a C+). Late projects will only be accepted for a limited time; once the late deadline has passed, your project will not be accepted under any circumstances, and you will receive a zero.

 

Remember, the only project that’s “wrong” is one that’s not handed in at all. Better to submit something, even if it’s late, incomplete, or just not your best work, and get some  credit. Even an “F” is better than a zero.

 

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